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Education, not contraception, key to cutting teenage pregnancies

12 February 2008

Better general education would be more effective in cutting teenage pregnancies than more sex education and greater access to contraceptives, according to Professor David Paton of Nottingham University Business School. Commenting on the Labour government's teenage pregnancy strategy, which is well behind target, Professor Paton said that there was strong evidence that schemes to promote birth control for teenagers were counterproductive, and that social deprivation, marriage breakdown and religion had a greater effect on pregnancy rates. [Daily Mail, 6 February]

In a letter to the Telegraph website, Dr Helen Watt of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, London, England, argues that the technique described as creating an embryo with three parents is, in fact, cloning. An early IVF embryo is cloned by transfer of its DNA into another woman's ovum from which the nucleus has been removed. [Telegraph, 7 February]
A study published in the Human Reproduction journal suggests that teenage boys are more likely to father children with birth problems than are men over 40. Both the Canadian authors and independent British experts recognised that social factors may be involved. [PA on Channel 4, 7 February]

Scientists at Edinburgh University, Scotland, claim to have generated human liver cells from embryonic stem-cells. The research was published in the journal Stem Cells. Dr David Hay, a research fellow at the university's Centre for Regenerative Medicine, said that the technique paved the way to drug testing on embryo-derived cells, and held great promise for developments including liver disease therapies. [BBC, 6 February] [Edinburgh University, 7 Feb ]

Officials in Michigan have approved the wording of a petition that could lead to a ballot on embryo research being held in November. Proponents want Michigan's strict laws on embryo research to be broadened. Pro-life organisations are preparing a robust opposition campaign. [Mlive, 5 February]

An Australian senator has said he would introduce a private member's bill to re-instate a law allowing euthanasia in the Northern Territory. Dr Bob Brown, leader of the Green party, has asked the prime minister for a conscience vote on what he called important civilising legislation. [AFP on Yahoo, 7 February]

A pro-abortion group within the Republican Party has endorsed John McCain as presidential candidate. Anne Stone, chairman of the Republicans for Choice Political Action Committee, told the Cybercast News Service that Senator McCain, despite his pro-life voting record and opposition to Roe v. Wade, was not as staunch as the other contenders, and was willing to reach across the party. [LifeNews, 6 February] Mr Mike Huckabee, one of Sen McCain's rivals, said he would support him if me became the Republican nominee. He was responding to Dr James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, who said he could not in conscience vote for Sen McCain, because of his support for embryonic stem cell research. [LifeNews, 6 February]

Doctors from four Roman universities, two public and two Catholic, have issued a declaration affirming the duty of doctors to rescue and care for extremely premature babies, including abortion survivors, even if the mother does not agree. Ms Livia Turco, the health minister, told El País, the Spanish newspaper, that protecting such children was senseless cruelty. Ms Cinzia Caporale, a liberal bioethicist, has endorsed the declaration. [LifeSite, 6 February] Ms Turco later recanted her remarks.

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